Topgolf Playzone Video from Tampa Bay Times
BRANDON — Right in the middle of my backswing, a golf club aloft over my left shoulder, a phalanx of young employees at Topgolf Tampa start line-dancing behind me. They’re doing something called “the Wobble”; I, in turn, do something called “the Shank,” totally botching my shot at this high-tech play zone.
I blame them.
This is a pretty, and pretty weird, joint, and it will prove curious counterpoint to the Bass Pro Shops opening across the street next year. Debuting to the public Dec. 19, Topgolf is a $20 million 65,000-square-foot behemoth hoping to lure both serious golfers and serious party stars from St. Petersburg, downtown Tampa and Orlando — not to mention families, foodies and single men and women ready to mingle, Wobble and, if time allows, actually play golf.
The main structural focus are the 102 “hitting bays,” all aimed at about 265 yards of futuristic driving range. (You’ve no doubt seen those 157-foot-high poles, netting and Close Encounters lights if you’ve driven I-75 or the Lee Roy Selmon lately.)
Here’s the gist: Microchipped golf balls (like the clubs, all Callaway brand) are hit into glowing portals on the range; points, distance and accuracy numbers flash on a video-game-like screen in the hitting bay. There are about seven different games, from driving distance and chipping accuracy, to more communal challenges akin to darts. Each bay can accommodate six people, with hourly prices ranging from $20 earlier in the day to $40 at night.
And yet, golf doesn’t feel like the main attraction; it’s the whole dizzying scene, as if Tiger Woods (you know, when he was naughty) overhauled Dave & Buster’s. There are flat-screen TVs and full liquor bars everywhere; for as much as $30, you can get a “Golfbag Fishbowl” filled with Long Island iced tea. After one of those, be careful when swinging a driver or, you know, not plummeting from a third-floor hitting bay…